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Like a bird : the art of the American slave song  Cover Image Book Book

Like a bird : the art of the American slave song

Grady, Cynthia (Author). Wood, Michele. (Added Author).

Summary: Enslaved African Americans longed for freedom, and that longing took many forms including music. Drawing on biblical imagery, slave songs both expressed the sorrow of life in bondage and offered a rallying cry for the spirit. Like a Bird brings together text, music, and illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Michele Wood to convey the rich meaning behind thirteen of these powerful songs.

Record details

  • ISBN: 1467785504
  • ISBN: 9781467785501
  • Physical Description: 40 pages : color illustrations, music ; 22 cm
  • Publisher: Minneapolis : Millbrook Press, 2016.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 39).
Subject: Slaves United States Songs and music
African Americans Music History and criticism

Available copies

  • 2 of 2 copies available at Kenton County.


  • 0 current holds with 2 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Covington Branch J 782.253 Grad (Text) 33126020191254 JNonfiction Available -
Erlanger Branch J 782.253 Grad (Text) 33126020191239 JNonfiction Available -

  • School Library Journal Reviews : SLJ Reviews 2016 September
    Gr 4 Up—"Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart." These words by Frederick Douglass are offered in an endnote to provide context for the 13 spirituals included in this volume. Readers will learn how the book began, with Wood's acrylic paintings inspired by the songs; the author then studied the paintings and researched the songs before writing the text. Each spread features a painting on the recto and one or two paragraphs of text along with the music and verses on the verso. There is also a full-spread painting of a group of slaves riding a metaphorical railroad conducted by Harriet Tubman preceding the spread for the song "Get on Board—the Gospel Train," which also includes an archival photo of Tubman. Some of the songs will be familiar, such as "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," while others, like "Ain't Gonna Study War No More," "Go Down, Moses," and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," will resonate with older readers. The vibrant paintings often incorporate quilting motifs and historical events. Original lyrics are featured in the back matter. An archival photo of the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, TN, who popularized the spiritual as a musical form in the 1870s, appears in the introduction. VERDICT This is an excellent resource for music and art teachers as well as for social studies and U.S. history lessons.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.
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